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The International School for Holocaust Studies

Lesson Plans

These lesson plans cover some of the central themes of the Holocaust, detailing how they can be approached in the classroom. This page will be updated from time to time, as the staff at the International School for Holocaust Studies prepares new material.


More materials for use in the classroom are available on our Learning Environments page. These include more open-ended teacher's guides and interactive activities.


For elementary school students (ages 9-12)


The Story of Uri Orlev

“Until Then I Had Only Read about These Things in Books..” - The Story of Uri Orlev

This lesson plan highlights the personal story of Uri Orlev, a Holocaust survivor, who became a writer and translator in Israel. The story, based on his book “The Sandgame,” is told from Uri’s viewpoint as a child. His dreams, hopes and ambitions are described, along with his experiences in the ghettos, hiding, the death of his mother, etc. Read more

I Wanted to Fly Like a Butterfly

I Wanted to Fly Like a Butterfly

This lesson plan features the book of the same name, which presents the personal story of Hannah Gofrit. Naomi Morgenstern, the author of the book, has reworked the testimony of Mrs. Gofrit so as to make her story accessible to third- and fourth-grade students. Read more



For middle school students (ages 13-15)


Written in Pencil in the Sealed Freightcar – A Poem by Dan Pagis (1930-1986)

Written in Pencil in the Sealed Freightcar: A Poem by Dan Pagis (1930-1986) -
A Teacher’s Guide for Using the Poem and Four Biblical Verses

This Teacher’s Guide opens up new avenues of approaching one of Pagis’s most well known poems. The themes suggested in the accompanying slideshow presentation (PDF) are based on an intimate linking of the four verses in Genesis that deal with Cain and Abel, and the poem itself. The teacher can choose to deal with as many or as few themes as suit the pupils and the teacher’s own objectives. Read more

A Childhood Ensnared in Tears

“A Childhood Ensnared in Tears” - Creative Use of Holocaust Imagery in the Classroom

The following lesson plan provides an avenue for teachers to use art in the classroom. Through a discussion of symbols and the artwork of Holocaust survivor Chava Wolf, students of varying ages can express themselves on this difficult subject. Read more


The Gambler and The Journey

The Gambler and The Journey - A Comparison of Worlds in Two Short Stories

Joe Lumer has given readers a look into the rich tapestry of Jewish life in Poland between the two world wars. The tragedy of the Holocaust casts an overwhelming shadow over the preceding period, obscuring the vibrancy that pulsed through the Polish-Jewish world. This collection of short stories written by Joe Lumer helps to restore the fabric of Jewish communities living side-by-side with their Christian neighbors, focusing on life before rather than the ensuing catastrophe.
Noah the Water Carrier and Other Stories is an age-apropriate anthology for middle and high school pupils. This lesson plan is based on two short stories in this collection which highlight the contrasting Jewish worlds in Poland. Read more

The Synagogue on Praska Street

The Synagogue on Praska Street

This lesson provides an opportunity for students to learn about Jewish life in Zagreb before the Holocaust. In this lesson, students will explore Jewish symbolism and Jewish tradition. They will hear about the community of Zagreb and its unique features within the context of the Jewish world. Learning about Jewish life before the Holocaust is essential for further studying of the Nazi era and the Holocaust. Only by realizing how much Jews were a part of Europe and European culture can one relate to the murder of human beings - not numbers - during the Holocaust. Furthermore, exposing students to a vibrant Jewish community will help students perceive Jewish people not only as victims but also as active and involved citizens of Croatia. Read more

Compassion within the Ghetto Walls

Compassion within the Ghetto Walls

Trapped behind ghetto walls, the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto suffered from starvation and the Nazi decrees designed to dehumanize them. Jews, however, found many ways to help each other through these difficult times. This lesson plan will highlight some of the organizations that were established to coordinate social welfare activities. Read more

Liberation and Survival


Liberation and Survival

In this classroom activity, students explore different aspects of how survivors experienced liberation, through a close reading and discussion of selected testimonies. Read more




For high school students (ages 15-18)


The Official Poster for Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day 2013

The Official Poster for Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day 2013

his lesson plan focuses on the winning design of the 2013 National Holocaust Remembrance Day Poster Competition, "Designing Memory," held by Yad Vashem and Israel's Ministry for Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs. Read more


The Official Poster for Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day 2012

The Official Poster for Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day 2012

This lesson plan focuses on the winning design of the 2012 National Holocaust Remembrance Day Poster Competition, "Designing Memory," held by Yad Vashem and Israel's Ministry for Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs. Read more


"Fragments of Memory": The Faces Behind the Documents, Artifacts and photographs

"Fragments of Memory": The Faces Behind the Documents, Artifacts, and Photographs

This lesson plan focuses on the winning design of this year's national competition to create a poster to mark Israel's Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day held by Yad Vashem and the Israel Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs (5751/2011). This poster, designed by Open University student Adva Loutaty, was chosen from 180 competition entries. Read more


"Germany’s Sculptor"

"Germany’s Sculptor"

This lesson provides an opportunity for students to examine how art and images were used as propaganda in Nazi Germany. Analyzing a cartoon published in Germany in 1933, students will explore a primary document which illustrates how the visual arts were forced into complete submission to censorship and National Socialist “coordination.” Read more




The Testimonies of Two Young Women in the Holocaust

The Testimonies of Two Young Women in the Holocaust - A Teaching Unit on Survival

Testimonies written by Holocaust survivors provide a window into the harsh reality of the Shoah for senior high-school pupils. The combination of historical information with the intimate details of how these two authors confront and finally overcome this history presents a powerful personal angle with which the teacher can engage pupils. This unit focuses on two personal accounts of young Jewish women featured in Stolen Youth, published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, in 2005. Read more

Destruction and Rebirth at Bergen Belsen

Destruction and Rebirth at Bergen Belsen

This classroom activity explores the transformation of Bergen Belsen from a concentration camp to a Displaced Persons' camp. It focuses particularly on how Holocaust survivors grappled with loneliness and despair by getting married and starting families shortly after liberation. Through the lens of Bergen Belsen, we gain an understanding about how Holocaust survivors displayed courage and determination in generating life after the Holocaust. Read more


How was it humanly possible

The Transport - “How was it humanly possible?”

This lesson is an expansion of one educational discussion, included in the book “How was it humanly possible?” by Irena Steinfeldt. The main pedagogical aim of the lesson is to point out issues of personal choice and responsibility - some of the most important moral themes the Holocaust raises. Read more


The Gambler and The Journey

The Gambler and The Journey - A Comparison of Worlds in Two Short Stories

Joe Lumer has given readers a look into the rich tapestry of Jewish life in Poland between the two world wars. The tragedy of the Holocaust casts an overwhelming shadow over the preceding period, obscuring the vibrancy that pulsed through the Polish-Jewish world. This collection of short stories written by Joe Lumer helps to restore the fabric of Jewish communities living side-by-side with their Christian neighbors, focusing on life before rather than the ensuing catastrophe.
Noah the Water Carrier and Other Stories is an age-apropriate anthology for middle and high school pupils. This lesson plan is based on two short stories in this collection which highlight the contrasting Jewish worlds in Poland. Read more

Seven Poems, Seven Paintings - A Teacher's Guide to Selected Holocaust Poetry

Seven Poems, Seven Paintings - A Teacher's Guide to Selected Holocaust Poetry

This unique teacher's guide is intended for poetry, art and literature teachers interested in a more artistic approach to teaching the Holocaust. It includes seven Holocaust-related poems, accompanied by original artist's impressions of these poems. Each poem includes discussion points for the teacher. Read more


Five Poems by Dan Pagis

Five Poems by Dan Pagis

Dan Pagis, a Holocaust survivor, was one of modern Israel’s most vibrant poetic voices. His references to the Holocaust are sometimes oblique, filtered through his use of biblical or mystical images. In this new teacher’s guide, we explore five of his poems, along with points for discussion, analysis and classroom debate. Read more

Chiune (Sempo) Sugihara - Righteous Among the Nations

Chiune (Sempo) Sugihara - Righteous Among the Nations

Before being forced to leave Kovno, Chiune (Sempo) Sugihara rescued approximately 6,000 Jews, whose lives were threatened by the impending invasion of the Soviet Union by Nazi Germany. By highlighting his self-sacrifice and actions this lesson plan demonstrates how the teacher can sensitize students to matters of emotional intelligence – social awareness to the plight of the other. Students are invited to participate in the readings incorporated in the lesson plan, and at the conclusion of the lesson plan four questions are included for discussion. Read more

Between the Worlds

Between the Worlds Social Circles in the Theresiendstadt Ghetto

This is the accompanying website to the similarly titled educational CD-ROM, which focuses on daily life in the Theresienstadt Ghetto, and on the social circles that existed within it. The website includes a lesson plan that introduces one of the chapters, which covers the world and the lives of children in the ghetto, as well as their relationship with the various social circles in the ghetto. The lesson plan demonstrates how the teacher can work with the CD-ROM and incorporate the materials and ideas it presents. Read more

Righteous among the Nations

Righteous among the Nations - Case Studies of Two Women: Miep Gies and Bep Voskuijl.

On July 6, 1942, Anne Frank and her family moved into the empty annex of her father Otto’s office, where they remained in hiding for over two years. Four people knew of their hiding and assisted them, risking their own lives. This lesson plan focuses on two of them – Miep Gies and Bep Voskujl – who have since been recognized as Righteous among the Nations. Read more

What Did Oskar Schindler View from the Hill

What Did Oskar Schindler View from the Hill? - Righteous among the Nations: Oskar Schindler as a Study Case

Righteous among the Nations are non-Jews who had risked their lives during the Holocaust to save Jews in countries that had been under Nazi rule or had collaborated with the German regime. This lesson focuses on one of these Righteous individuals named Oskar Schindler. We will analyze the motivations of Oskar Schindler to help Jews survive and identify the process of change that Schindler underwent from being a Nazi businessman to a rescuer of Jews. Read more

Teaching the Holocaust Through Poetry

Teaching the Holocaust Through Poetry

The Holocaust occurred 65 years ago and reams have been written about it. Different disciplines have applied their approaches to try and understand the transgressive nature of this period in human history. We have written a lesson-plan focusing on a poem written by W.H. Auden, one of England’s leading poets at the time of the 2nd World War. The poem was written about half a year before the outbreak of the war and as such, it deals more with the problems of refugees than with ghettos and concentration camps. With great prescience, Auden raises the specter of the German-Jewish refugees that had become a factor on the international agenda since the mid-1930’s, and whose fate he addresses even before the war erupts. Read more

Remembering the Holocaust and Combating Xenophobia

Remembering the Holocaust and Combating Xenophobia

In our effort to promote awareness of the Holocaust and of the rise of antisemitism in Europe, this activity focuses on the racial, antisemitic discrimination of Jewish children during the Holocaust. By fighting contemporary antisemitism and other forms of xenophobia, we safeguard Holocaust memory. Read more


Children in the Holocaust

Children in the Holocaust

This lesson plan focuses on the Jewish child during the Holocaust. The Nazis considered all Jews, including Jewish children, to be their enemies. One-and-a-half million Jewish children were murdered by the Nazis. How did Jewish children grow up under Nazi rule? How did living in a hostile environment affect their perception of the world? Read more

The Iasi Pogrom

The Iasi Pogrom

Students will learn about the Holocaust in Romania, and about relations between Jews and their non-Jewish neighbors in Iasi, Romania prior to WWII. By examining assistance efforts by non-Jewish rescuers, students will better understand that individuals have the power to make choices: to remain indifferent to murder or to respect others. Read more

Workshop on Antisemitism Using Statements

Workshop on Antisemitism Using Statements

This lesson is based on ten statements, each relating to a different aspect of contemporary antisemitism. This activity provides an opportunity to stimulate discussion on various current issues. Read more




Teaching the Holocaust through Literature

Teaching the Holocaust through Literature

This lesson and its activities highlight a short story, The Tenth Man, written by Holocaust survivor Ida Fink. The story was first published in Polish in 1983. Read more




Jewish Children in the Holocaust as Reflected in Their Diaries

Jewish Children in the Holocaust as Reflected in Their Diaries

This lesson plan contains selected excerpts from the diaries of five children who lived and perished in the Holocaust. Through these diary entries, we will highlight some central stages many Jewish European children experienced: their pre-war existence; initial Nazi occupation; anti-Jewish decrees – the “badge of shame”, economic policies and disruption of schools; closure into ghettos or forced into hiding; daily life in the ghetto. Read more

Spiritual Resistance During the Holocaust

Spiritual Resistance During the Holocaust

The topic of resistance during the Holocaust signifies heroism in the face of evil. This lesson plan focuses on spiritual resistance, including examples of photographers, poets, historians, couriers, youth group members, and more. Unarmed and confined in ghettos and concentration camps, we cover some examples of Jews fighting to maintain their humanity and dignity in addition to their physical selves. This lesson plan will acquaint you with the topic and provide some ideas on how to teach the subject and its greater global theme in your classroom. Read more

Schindler's List as an Educational Tool

Schindler's List as an Educational Tool

These lesson plans and activities, geared towards high school students, have been developed to foster a careful methodological approach so as not to confuse Hollywood with reality. Various interdisciplinary classroom activities have been designed for teachers who use Spielberg's film to address the Holocaust. Read more

The Sacrifice of Isaac as a Motif in Holocaust Poetry

"Your Son, Your Only One" - The Sacrifice of Isaac as a Motif in Holocaust Poetry

From the earliest beginnings of Jewish history, the story of Isaac’s sacrifice has been an important element in this history and a focal point in Jewish identity.
The universal power of the story is equally manifest in the spread of the monotheistic religions, for which this biblical story - in its various versions - is the bedrock of belief. In the following selection of five poems, a rich base is created for discussion. Read more

Learning and Remembering about Auschwitz-Birkenau

Learning and Remembering about Auschwitz-Birkenau

This lesson plan features testimonies, photographs and other primary source materials relating to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration and extermination camp. Students will learn about the history of the camp, the daily existence of its Jewish prisoners, and its liberation by Soviet forces in January, 1945. Read more